By Tovah Lazaroff – April 9, 2018 17:12 – JERUSALEM POST – Israel gave the United States advance warning of its early Monday morning strike on a military base in Syria, according to initial reports, while the Kremlin charged that it failed to inform Russia.There have been some media reports, however, that Israel did warn Russia, and as a result, Moscow pulled its personnel from the base. There were no Russian casualties from the attack.
Israel has not made any statement on the strike. The US, France and Great Britain have also said they were not involved in the operation.
On Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman indicated that when it comes to Syria he always operates under the assumption that Israel acts alone.
Two US officials told NBC that Israel carried out the strike and that the US was informed in advance. Russia and Syria have also accused Israel of striking the Tiyas Military Airbase, also known as the T-4. Located near Homs, it is the largest Syrian airbase. It is believed to house an Iranian complex that that supplies arms to Tehran’s ally, Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah.
Israel and Russia have a carefully orchestrated agreement with regard to Israeli Air Force raids against targets in Syria that it believes pose a threat to the Jewish state. It has been particularly active against arms convoys transferring weapons from Iran to Hezbollah.
But this particular attack also comes after Syrian government forces allegedly gassed at least 49 civilians to death in a chemical attack in Douma.Defense analysts say there are large deployments of Russian forces at the T-4 base and Russian jets fly regular sorties from the base to strike rebel-held areas such as Douma.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Monday that he has not ruled out military action in response to this attack. Mattis does not rule out military action against Syria, April 9, 2018 (Reuters)There is some speculation among analysts that Israel carried out the attack in coordination with the US to test the latest Syrian response system in advance of such a response.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that President Vladimir Putin had no contact with Israel with regard to the airstrikes, the Russian media website Sputnik International reported.Russian defense and foreign ministries have demanded an explanation from Israel, according to Sputnik.
According to Channel 2, Russian Foreign Minister Dimitry Lavrov told reporters, “I hope the US understands that this is a dangerous development and that we have an obligation to Damascus.”
He had as similar reply to US warnings Sunday about a possible military strike in response to the chemical attack.Russia has said that any claims of a chemical attack in Syria are false and an attempt to fan the flames of war.
Dmitri Trenin, the Director of Carnegie’s Moscow Center tweeted, “The US and Russia are now closer to a direct collision between their military forces than at any time since the Cold War. The only question on my mind: will Russia hit back at the US when it launches strikes against Damascus?”
According to reports from the Russian Defense Ministry and Syrian media, two Israeli F-15 combat jets launched eight missiles at the airbase from the Mediterranean sea. Syrian forces shot down eight of the missiles and three others hit their targets. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 14 people were killed in the strikes, including three Iranians.
Reuters contributed to this report. www.mesop.de